A Funny News Item … and the
Sad Truth About DUI Enforcement

First, the funny stuff:

Recently in Utah a man pulled into a Wendy’s drive-in window and fell asleep. The next person in line, concluding that the driver had been drinking, did the right thing: he removed the keys from the dashboard and called the police.

wendysWhen awakened the driver, Jeremy Barney, admitted to drinking. In fact, according to the officer’s report he was too drunk even to understand the instructions for the sobriety test that the policeman was unable to give him.

Here’s where it gets less funny:

The news story states that Barney not only had multiple alcohol violations and a revoked license, but he was supposed to have an ignition interlock installed on his car. An interlock prevents a car from starting if a driver fails a breath test due to alcohol.

Barney was a prime candidate for an ignition interlock: judging from his record as described in the Daily Herald, he was someone who needed to be actively prevented from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Because repeat DUI offenders are road accidents waiting to happen.

This arrest (and there was an arrest, and several charges, for the driver) highlights the weak link in the anti-drunk-driving  process: DUI enforcement.
Young driver with bottle in hand sleeps in the car.
It should come as no surprise that the offender was driving with a revoked license. The majority of DUI offenders do just that. And that is the reason ignition interlocks were invented.

Had an interlock been present, Barney would never have been able to drive up to Wendy’s in that condition. An interlock not only tests a driver at the start of a journey, but periodically during the drive, to ensure that the driver doesn’t drink after getting underway.

The question, then, is why did Barney not have an ignition interlock installed? Utah has some tough DUI laws, including fines, jail time, compulsory drug and alcohol assessment, and mandatory interlocks for second DUI offenses. But the sad truth is that too many people ordered to have interlocks don’t get them, and they’re not found out until there’s an arrest — or a death.

Utah needs to close this serious loophole and make sure that people who are ordered to have interlocks installed actually comply with the law.

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